23 July 2010
Ear disease or Otitis Externa means inflammation of the outer part of the ear passage (also known as the external ear canal). It is a very common condition and particularly so in dogs. However it is a complex disease which is often due to a number of triggers.
Unfortunately our pets can’t tell us when they have a problem, so it is the responsibility of all of us, the owners, to recognise signs of ill health. Ear disease can manifest itself in many ways:
Excessive scratching and pawing of the ear and head
Rubbing the head on the floor or sofa
Sensitivity to the touch – may cry out when ear touched
Shaking of the head or tilting head to one side
Black or yellow discharge in the ear
Accumulation of dark brown wax
Redness or swelling of the ear flap
Changes in behaviour such as lethargy, depression or irritability
Loss of hearing or balance and disorientation
Bleeding from the ear
If you notice any of these signs then you should contact your vet practice to make an appointment. It is very important that a vet examines inside your pet’s ears to check the canal thoroughly. Putting drops into the ears without them having been checked by a vet can cause further complications if for example the ear drum has ruptured or there is a foreign body present.
So, what causes Ear Disease?
The ear canal provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and yeasts. However these organisms in their own right do not actually cause ear disease. They are what we term opportunists and they make the most of the situation created by other factors.
There are many causes of ear disease. Common triggers include:
Anatomy of the Ear – especially droopy “spaniel type” ears
Foreign bodies – grass seeds in the summer
Ear mites – especially in cats
Allergic skin disease. Atopy triggered by a sensitivity to aeroallergens such as house dust mites and pollens is one example in which the ears are one of the body regions which are particularly prone to inflammation and itch
Swimming can lead to wetting of the ear canal. Recurrent wetting will change the microclimate to favour infection.
How is Ear Disease Treated?
Ear disease is treated in a number of ways – dependant on the underlying cause and how long-standing it is. Your vet will recommend an appropriate regime that will best suit your pet. This may include an ear cleaner as well as a topical medication to use at home. Recurrent and neglected cases may require surgery to help manage the problems so it is always wide to attend to ear problems as soon as they are noted,
A really important aspect of maintaining healthy ears is keeping your pet’s ears clean. Animals that are prone to ear disease can really benefit from regular cleaning of their ears. This does not need to be performed any more frequently than every 48 hours. Your vet can advise you of the correct regime for your pet.
Sancerum is a cleaner that can be used to maintain healthy ears, It helps to break down the wax and debris that can develop in your pet’s ears. It also has a drying agent which stops the ears from getting soggy – this helps to keep the numbers of bacteria and yeasts under control.